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This year the Bauhaus commemorates its hundred years and I would like to use the opportunity to fill you in an interesting and odd crossbreed between Flamenco and this historical institution. It is odd because, as you may well know, the Bauhaus was officially declared “degenerate art” by the almighty German mustache –of course I mean Hitler–. Needless to say that it did not please our very own Spanish mustache neither.

The creative awakening of the country will not take place up until the 1960’s, architects and artist made a tremendous effort to revitalize the scene from that moment onward.

Fortunately the true nature of art is impossible to block and like a subtle corrosion it always manages to cut through the obstacles. And so, in 1949, Gerhard Marcks, one of the founders of the Bauhaus in Weimar, traveled to Spain where he would had the chance to attend to some flamenco parties. Such was the impression those evenings left him that during the following years he used the flamenco imaginary as a theme form many of his new work.

Gerhard Marcks (1889-1918) was one of the most important German sculptors of the XXth century but he was also one of the leaders of the Bauhaus. He was involved in the artistic movement from its early beginnings: in 1919 in Weimar and then in Dessau in 1925.

Gerhard Marcks was the author of the famous sculpture “Town musicians of Bremen” (Bremer Stadtmusikanten) based on the tale of the same title by the Grimm Brothers. That is the sculpture where a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster stand on top of each other forming a pyramid. The tale and then the sculpture had made the town of Bremen famous. It is also there where Marcks museum is located.

One of the most interesting pieces dedicated to flamenco by Marcks could very be “La Faruca II”. It is a xylography that depicts a flamenco dancer (bailaora) with a guitarist at the back. Someone must have told him that what he was seeing was a “farruca”, one of the least common palos (types) of flamenco.

Farruca is a cante or palo that is no longer sung. In the original version it was a dance technique and was made popular by the Sevilla bailaor (flamenco dancer) Faíco, who came up with the idea and principles in Madrid with his friend the famous guitarist Montoya. The most recognizable feature of this dance is its virtuoso baroque tap-dancing, a true challenge even for the best flamenco dancers. It is a dance designed for men but women perform it too, although they have to wear trousers just like a man; the purpose of the trousers is to allow a better display of the tap-dancing. Hence it is very odd that Gerhard Marcks depicted a women dress in a full flamenco dress performing this flamenco technique. I am afraid he must have gotten confused somehow with the rhythm or heard someone said something or who knows what. Again, artist tend to have their vision a bit altered.

 
By the way, as of recently the famous bailaora Sara Baras was visiting our beloved Córdoba. She was on tour, performing her show “Sombras” (“Shadows”) which oddly enough means to honor one of her preferred palo: la Farruca. In the video you will see proof of just how wonderfully difficult this technique is.


 

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